Koto Bolofo for Margaret Howell
Last month, I visited Fevrier 28, a showroom that houses Edwin Neo, the man behind ed et al, a line of bespoke and RTW shoes that's been getting a fair bit of buzz in Singapore, and Kevin Seah, a well-known bespoke tailor in Singapore. (It's run by photographer Dominic Khoo, and houses his gallery and a small café where I saw Kinfolk magazine for the first ever in person.)
It was one of those rare occasions where looking at clothes and shoes didn't at all involve “fashion” as I know it. It was refreshing to look at clothes and shoes without the lens of trends and marketing. Even shopping at my favourite labels in the past have never been free of this feeling – I was always conscious of being sold and marketed something. But looking at those shoes and listening to Edwin to talk about his passion for what he does – it was a world away from my usual shoe-buying experience, to put it mildly.
Say "bespoke" and I think "expensive" and "elite". But there's a rather sensible element to this. The bespoke services I mentioned are by appointment only. That didn't sound very welcoming at first, but later I realised it made good sense – you don't go in unless you actually want or need something. It was a world far away from mindless shopping and impulse purchases.
And then there's the quality of what I was looking at. I don't see myself exclusively buying $2,000 shoes from now on, but seeing really, really beautifully done things has a way of casting most fast fashion in less flattering light.
No one needs a hand-tailored jacket. Or hand-welted shoes. But I would love to buy my clothes like this: have a long chat about style, fabric, fit, finishings, where the materials are coming from, be measured to an inch of my life, and know that someone will spend the next three months or so putting my item together. Compare this to how I have been, in the past, willing to spend four figures on a handbag made by someone I will likely never meet.
Picture from Margaret Howell